Key findings from the Asia Foundation’s survey of 6000 Afghans, conducted over the summer:
• In 2009, 42 percent of respondents say that the country is moving in the right direction.
This figure is higher than in 2008 (38%). Similarly, 29 percent feel that the country is moving in the wrong direction compared to 32 percent in 2008, signaling a check on the trend of declining optimism that had been evident since 2006.
• The main reason for optimism continues to be good security which has been mentioned by an increasing proportion of respondents each year, from 31 percent in 2006 to 44 percent in 2009. More respondents in 2009 also mention reconstruction
and rebuilding (36%) and opening of schools for girls (21%) as reasons for optimism than in previous years.
• Insecurity also remains the most important reason for pessimism, cited by 42 percent of respondents. However, the proportion of respondents that highlight insecurity in 2009 has fallen since 2008 when half of respondents (50%) emphasized this factor.
• Insecurity (including attacks, violence and terrorism) is identified as the biggest problem in Afghanistan by over a third of respondents (36%), particularly in the South East (48%), West (44%) and South West (41%). However, concern about other issues such as unemployment (35%), poor economy (20%), corruption (17%), poverty (11%) and education (11%) has increased in 2009 compared to 2008.
Maybe things have gotten worse since the summer, but this is hardly the picture of hopelessness I’ve been getting from the newspapers.